County will stay with same voting vendor

LISBON — Votes cast in future elections in Columbiana County will continue to be tabulated on equipment provided by a nationally known company.

The Columbiana County Board of Elections decided to go with Elections Systems & Software (ES&S) as voting equipment vendor.

The Nebraska-based company has been providing voting equipment to the county board of elections since 2006.

“We have been having successful, fair and accurate elections with this company,” Deputy Director Bryce Miner said.

He added that the ES&S bid was competitive with the equipment being provided and that the company will bring the county up to the new standards of security points moving forward.

“This is a decision that will impact this county for several years to come … our former directors did a great job of selecting ES&S,” he said.

He also said the board of elections audits have always been “great” while using ES&S.

The new contract with ES&S is for 10 years and includes a state-funded precinct scanner, a high speed digital image scanner, ExpressVote Ballot marking device, Ballot on Demand compact printer, software and other state-funded election services.

According to the bid proposal, the company’s total state-funded implementation price plus software, firmware and licensing fees is $942,299.

Total funds to be allocated to Columbiana County by the Auditor of State’s office for the equipment, software and services is just over $1.01 million, with the board of elections responsible for $27,175 in non state-funded implementation services.

The state funds are part of the more than $114 million allocated for new voting machines in 2019 and included in Senate Bill 135.

Board of Elections Director Kim Fusco said that ES&S will allow the board to have more than $76,000 left over in state funds that can be put toward new equipment like scanners for governor’s races and presidential elections.

The board also received a bid for equipment and software from Clear Ballot Group, Inc. at a total upfront proposal price of $501,660.

Fusco and Miner both echoed the same concerns with Clear Ballot Group, however, including the fact that the company does not yet have its systems certified by the state.

The company is on track to have its systems certified, but Fusco and Miner aren’t sure the systems will be certified by the May primary election.

Fusco also said she was not familiar with the scanner provided by Clear Ballot and was not certain it was as audit-friendly as they would prefer.

“It makes me a little bit nervous that in light of everything going on with elections we don’t have the whole system going up front,” Board Chairman David Johnson said of Clear Ballot. “We would have to wait until Clear Ballot has their new systems certified by the state. That is probably going to happen but until that does happen we would be using different equipment in the primary.”

Clear Ballot is also used in fewer states than ES&S, according to the bids provided, Fusco and Miner noted.

The board approved the contract with ES&S.


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